The 4th Para Brigade was formed in Kabrit, on the Suez Canal, in November 1942, under the guidance of its first and only commander, Brigadier Hackett. Moved to Palestine towards the end of February 1943, it had originally been intended to serve as an independent brigade, but was transferred to the 1st Airborne Division in June 1943, with the independent duty later being handed to the 2nd Para Brigade. Despite being formed from a nucleus of troops who had served in the Middle East, the 4th Para Brigade's only battle experience prior to Arnhem had come in Italy, which, though very useful, did not compare to the heavy fighting as seen by the 1st Para Brigade in North Africa and Sicily.

 

On the 9th September, the 2nd and 4th Para Brigade's, less the 11th Battalion, captured the Italian port of Taranto, having landed from the sea. After the town had been secured and handed over to the care of the 1st Para Brigade, the two vanguard brigades began to push northwards. The 4th Para Brigade captured the town of Massafra and then advanced on the village known as Mottala. It was during these initial stages that the commander of the 1st Airborne Division, Major-General Hopkinson, was killed while watching the 10th Battalion in action against German troops of the 1st Fallschirmjaeger Division. On the 13th September, both the 10th and 156th Battalions attacked the strategically important town of Goia del Colle, 20 miles outside of Taranto. A series of very determined patrols by both battalions and also a night attack on behalf of the 10th Battalion succeeded in evicting the enemy by the 16th September. Through capturing the town the Brigade had also taken its airport, which was occupied by a squadron of Hurricanes two days later, who henceforth provided the Division with air support. On the 19th September, the 4th Para Brigade's positions were replaced by the 1st Airlanding Brigade, and they retired back to Taranto after nine days of what was reported as "interesting though not heavy fighting". The Brigade withdrew from Italy with the remainder of the Division in November.

 

The 4th Para Brigade was disbanded almost immediately after its return from Arnhem; the survivors being divided between the even more so depleted battalions of the 1st Para Brigade.

 

Commander of the 4th Parachute Brigade

 

1942-1944

Brigadier John W. Hackett